tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN August 15, 2017 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
from viewers who say to me, thank you for being on air. i feel as though i'm going insane. you remind me that i'm not. to anybody out there watching today, who is confused and thinks i thought that the clan and neo-nazis and white supremacists, i thought there was no debate about this kind of thing among civilized people. there isn't a debate. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i'm turn teeing oving it over t blitzer. blaming both sides in a stunning surreal moment, president trump turns an fre infrastructure event into a rambling event blaming both sides saying the white supremacist rally was attacked by what he calls the alt left. waiting for facts. the president defends his delay in responding for the violence and failure to immediate condemn the racist rally saying his initial response was a fine
statement. he was simply waiting for the facts before going further. president trump says that steve bannon is a good person and not a racist. attacking mccain, even as he deals with this floundering agenda, another blow with his latest diatribe. the president blames senator john mccain for the failure of his effort. >> i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. a stunning display. the president just spanned the flames of the charlottesville violence by saying there is blame on both sides asking why there is no focus on what he calls the alt left and saying counterprotesters attack the white supremacist rally.
he refused to condemn the alt right saying you had people that were very fine on both sides. earlier, the president shared a social media post from an alt activist and conspiracy theorist which the former head of the ncaa called a racial dog. then they show cnn being hit by a train called trump. a car slammed into a crowd protesting the racism rampage. so far, only five arrests have been made. witnesses are still being sought for the bloody beating of an african-american man. there is growing fallout. the president has hit back calling them grandstanders who
can easily be replaced. i'll talk with republican congre congressman, wil herd. all are standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories. we just witnessed a truly extraordinary display by the president. not backing down at all in the face of very sharp criticism and instead going on the attack. let's go to our senior white house correspondent, jim acosta. first of all, what do you make of that amazing presidential appearance? >> reporter: wolf, the real president trump came forward. he went back to his initial explanation for the events that unfolded in charlottesville over the weekend blaming all side for the violence that claimed the life of that woman there, heather heyer. he did express appreciation to the mother of that victim saying he did appreciate the statement that heather heyer's mother put
out thanking him for what he had said in all of this. wolf, the president clearly went back to his earlier explanation for why he thought the violence unfolded in charlottesville over the weekend. put aside what the president said yesterday when he condemned white supremacists and neo-nazis by name. today, we pressed the president, reporter after reporter, on whether or not he puts the neo-nazis and white supremacists on the same level as the counterprotesters in charlottesville on saturday. the president, during this event that went off the rails here in trump tower, put all of those sides once again in the same basket. here is what he had to say. >> what about the alt left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt right. do they have any semblance of guilt. let me ask you this. what about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? do they have any problem?
i think they do. you had a group on one side that was bad and on the other side that was very violent. nobody wants to say nthat. you had a group that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent. i have condemned neo-nazis. i have condemned many different groups but not all of those people were neo-nazis, believe me. not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, robert e. lee. excuse me. you take a look at some of the groups and you see and you would know it if you were honest reporters, which in any case you were not. many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of robert e. lee. this week it is robert e. lee. i notice that stonewall jackson is coming down. is it george washington and
thomas jefferson the week after? he really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop? >> they were there to protest. excuse me. you take a look the night before. they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of robert e. lee. >> you heard the president there at the very end of those remarks in that clip we just played echoing some of the complaints of the white nationalists who were showing up to protest on saturday complaining about the removal of the statue dedicated to robert e. lee going on to say what's next? are we going to start taking down monuments for george washington and thomas jefferson. a lot of people would take exception with the president of the united states putting robert e. lee and george washington and thomas jefferson on the same level. he was doing that time and again. one of these things he noticed
as all of this was unfolding was that his chief of staff, general kelly, was watching this. the president comes out and makes those kind of remarks. the president declined to stand behind as chief strategist, steve bannon. he was pressed a couple of times as to whether or not bannon, who has been coming up heavy criticism in recent days for his very far right views. the president essentially said we are going to have to wait and see. he doesn't know yet. he described steve bannon as a good person and not a racist. he wasn't sure. he told reporters as to whether or not he is going to stay on. those are two side shows to
really what is the larger story here. that is the president given the chance once again to explain his views really took a stance here that i think is just going to be astonishing to americans all across the country. the president of the united states putting white nationalists and neo-nazis on the same level as counterprotesters. that is going to cause a lot of discomfort. many people in that party were starting to back up. as it was starting to die down, he threw a tanker trunk of gasoline on top of it. >> it was in such contrast to what he said yesterday.
he was reading a very carefully prepared statement from a teleprompter. he issued that statement and condemned the white supremacists, the neo-nazis, the kkk. he didn't make any suggestion that both sides were to blame for the violence. he walked out and made a statement on infrastructure. we had been told he wasn't going to do any questions following that statement. he stuck around for maybe 15, 20 minutes. that got very, very tough. have you ever seen anything like this before, jim? >> reporter: i don't think so, wolf. i have to tell you, i was here in trump tower on january 11th when that news conference goes off the rails. the president has an issue and i don't think this is going opinionated or offering a subjective take on all of this. the president has an issue when he is challenged on something he feels deeply personal about. he doesn't seem to have the ability to reign things in. the president says that from
time to time. a skilled politician knows when to say when. president trump demonstrated here in the lob by of his own building. he couldn't feel more at home than he could feel here at trump tower. he has talked about it time and time again. this is his home. he felt very comfortable espousing some views that are almost white nationalist like. he was complaining, bemoaning the removal of confederate statues across the country and asking whether or not george washington or thomas jefferson are next. you could go to any history professor and they will tell you the reason why these confederate statues are coming down across the country, those symbols of the confederacy cause so much hurt and pain for so many
americans across the country. it is really understandable to most level-headed, rational americans that these kinds of monuments and these kinds of symbols eventually need to come down and to compare them to george washington and thomas jefferson. i think that is just also going to be taken as a sign that the president perhaps needs a refresher course and needs to go back to history 101. i think those kind of remarks are going to be deeply, deeply unsettling. the last several minutes, david duke, the former grand wizard of the kkk, put out a statement thanking the president for what he said. i asked the president during these remarks here today, didn't you know david duke was at this rally? he said he didn't know david duke was at that rally. it is the easiest thing in the world to condemn nazis, to condemn white supremacists and the clan and david duke. once again, he fell short of
that. i think a lot of americans across the country, republican, democrat, straight down the middle, are going to be disappointed with what they heard today, wolf. >> it was amazing to watch it unfold. doubling and tripling down on those thoughts. i want to get some analysis from our specialist, david chalian. let me start with you. this is a defining moment of the trump presidency. i think that is without a doubt no matter what happens donald trump left that elevator and walked behind the lectern and equated naziism with other things and chose not to once again completely denounce this. that means we are in a whole new world. you and i spend our lives as reporters frying to get every side of the story, speaking to people on all sides of political
controversies. that does not apply here. this is not left. this is not right. this is not a typical political debate even though it deals with the president of the united states. this is a president who has lost touch with the american people. this will be a defining moment of this presidency. >> as i said, it was a totally marked contrast of what we heard only yesterday. >> it is clear that the president was force fed what he had to sayed. instead, what we heard on saturday was the real donald trump. he has been chafing about this. he wanted -- he doesn't want to admit a mistake. he can't admit a mistake. what he did in the end was he whitewashed the events in charlottesville as a protest with, as he said, some very fine people on both sides. this was a neo-nazi rally.
there is no way to call this simply a protest and to whitewash it, which is what we heard the president do, standing in the podium with the seal of the office of the presidency. i think it was a stunning moment. i agree with david. i do not know that there is any way now for the president to even to attempt to walk this back. >> let me get don lemon into this conversation. how did you see it? >> i'm saddened, wolf. sitting here thinking as we were about to go on the air, what am i going to say to wolf blitzer. what am i going to say to my colleagues, to the country and the world who is watching. this is a sad moment for the country. i think it was an awful moment for the person who was supposed to represent the highest office of the land. there today you saw the real donald trump moving all of his critics right in that moment. everyone was sitting there watching saying here we go.
his true colors are coming out, to equate a group that is a protest group, two protests group. yes, they are both protest groups, calling antifa. they were there protesting fascism. maybe their tactics weren't exactly right. it is messy. there is a difference between the two groups. one is a nazi, white supremacist group. what they want to do is extinguish people that look like me and you, wolf, jewish people, black people, even women. they don't think we are equal. the other is a protest group, protesting a political and racism movement. i am not saying that that group, all of their tactics are right. they were there protesting hate in america. in order to have this
conversation and the president doesn't seem to be very aware of the history of this country. you have to be aware of the history of this country. we have to discuss the history of this country and the history of this countries that it came out of racism. people who look like me did not come over on the nina, the pinta, or the santamaria. those people there want to keep people like me enslaved. that's why they were protesting. to talk about the removal of monuments, robert e. lehigh schoo school. can you imagine having to go to a school with the name of your oppress sore on it? walking in a building or seeing a confederate flag hanging at a government building. imagine if you are a jewish person and you had to go to hitler high school or middle school? that would be completely offensive on the deepest level. that's how people of color feel in this country when we have to
deal with figures like robert e. lee and confederate flags. it is no different than flying a swastika. the president is ignorant of history. he does not know context. he should go back to school and get an elementary education on how this country started and about protest groups and how this country works and who he represents and who he should represent. >> david axlerod, i'm really anxious to hear your reaction. >> at times like this, wolf, you expect the president of the united states, you want the president of the united states to exercise some moral authority, to exercise some leadership. we saw bill clinton do it after the bombing. we saw george w. bush do it. we were attacked in 9/11. we saw barack obama do it several times including charlest
charleston, to speak to the better angels. instead of standing up, we saw a president melt down. gloria was right this is the real donald trump. we saw a video, a presentation that had all the authenticity of a hostage video in which he grudgingly condemned the white nationalists, not neo-nazis and so on. today, he seemed to be absenting them or people associated with them. this was a demonstration that was called as a pro white demonstration. this was a demonstration that was called to celebrate symbols of segregation and the confederacy. it drew, not surprisingly, white nationalists, neo-nazis, in their full regalia. the president says there was violence propagated by
counterprotesters. what if there were no counterprotesters there? would he not have had word of condemnation for that group or should he not have who were there with a permit to demonstrate hate speech and hateful etiology? this was a very low moment. >> who were the people that were armed to the teeth? there was more fire power on the white racist supremacist side than there were with the police officers. can you imagine a group of african-americans with that much fire power carrying semi assault weapons in the middle of a city street for a protest that went wrong. there would be outrage, unbelievable that the president of the united states can stand on a national stage and equate the two saying there was violence on both sides and both sides are responsible. it is ignorant, disgusting and
unbelievable. >> what an amazing performance. i want to bring in will heard of texas. congressman, i want you and all of our viewers here in the united states and around the world to listen to a bit more of what president trump just said at this news conference. >> the statement i made on saturday was a fine statement. you don't make statements that direct unless you know the facts. before i make a statement, i need the facts. i don't want to rush into a statement. unlike you and unlike the media, before i make a statement, i like to know the facts. frankly, people still don't know all of the facts. it was very important. excuse me. it was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly.
there are still things that people don't know. what about the alt left? they came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? do they have any semblance of guilt? let me ask you this. what about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs, do they have any problem? i think they do. you had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent and nobody wants to say that. i'll say that right now. you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent. i have condemned neo-nazis. i have condemned many different groups. not all of those people were neo-nazis, believe me. not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, robert e. lee.
when you take a look at some of the groups and you see and you would know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you are not, many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of robert e. lee. i noticed that stonewall jackson is coming down. i wonder, is it george washington next week. is it thomas jefferson the week after. you really have to ask yourself, where does it stop? they were there to protest. you take a look the night before. they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of robert e. lee? >> do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office? >> i think they have gotten better. they have been frayed for a long time. you can ask president obama about that. he would make speeches about it. you had a group on one side and a group on the other. they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible and a horrible thing to
watch. there is another side. there was a group on inside you can call them the left. you have just called them the left, that came violently attack the other group. i think there is blame on both sides. i have no doubt about it and you don't have any doubt about it either. and if you reported it accurately, you would say that. you had some very bad people in that group. you also had people that were very fine people on both sides but you had many people in that group other than neo-nazis and white nationalists. the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. you had a lot of people in that group that were there sentto innocently and very legally protest. they had a permit. the other group didn't have a permit. there are sttwo sides to a stor. i thought what took place was a
horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. there are two sides to the country. >> some of what the president just said at that remarkable news conference, congressmen heard as a republican. you are a republican member of the house of representatives. more important as an american, are you proud of the way the president of the united states handled this situation today? >> absolutely not, wolf. >> if there are any kids watching the show, racism, bigotry, anti-semitism, it is not okay. you can't support it in any form or fashion. i wasn't there. this is the first i am hearing about this press conference by the way. i thought we were going to be talking about north korea. if you are showing up to a clan rally, you are probably a racism or a bigot. saying that or anything other, the images that i saw were skinheads and neo-nazis beating up women and trying to poke
people with flag poles. it is not okay. this is unacceptable. again, for those watching, i think the outrage across the political spectrum about this is maybe the thing that ultimately unites us. wolf, what's wild for me, is i just finished 27 town halls in the last seven days. i call it d.c. to d.q. i go to as many dairy queens as i can and talk to folks. the thing i learn, this way more unites us than divides us. those are the things we should be talking about and making sure we continue this experiment called america. >> you know what's really alarming, congressman, is that so many white supremacists and white nationalists out there will watch the president's comments today. they will come away believing that he still identifies with
their cause. he had a responsibility certainly yesterday. he blamed the kkk and the neo-nazis and the white supremacists but today he is basically saying there is blame on both sides, which is what he said originally on saturday. he had a unique opportunity here to fix this. you believe he failed. >> yes, he did. >> i don't think anybody should be looking at getting props from a grand dragon of the kkk as any kind of sign of success. this is the definition of terrorism, politically motivated violence against noncombatants. that's what happened and transpired in charlottesville. we should be trying to talk about and understand why are some of these groups getting
radicalized. how do we prevent this from happening? why do people feel it is okay to publicly talk about racism, bigotry and anti-semitism. our law enforcement, do they have the resources to deal with this kind of problem? this is where the conversation should be. the leader of -- nobody should doubt whether or not the leader of the free world is against racism, bigotry, neo-nazis and anti-semitism. >> what i was hoping and i said, you as well, congressman, we would hear from the president a short statement in which he would say, i don't want their support. if they think i want their support, the white supremacists and the kkk, the neo-nazis, i don't want their support. they may think they are in my camp. i don't want them. we did not hear that from the president. that was disappointing. i assume you agree?
that would have been probably better than what i said. it would have been good to stick to the teleprompter and not go off the cuff. >> this is video of what happened in charlottesville. this is video from our sister network, hbo, to remind our viewers and remind you, congressman
of what was going on. jews will not replace us. jews will not replace us. blood and soil, blood and soil, blood and soil.
whose streets? our streets. whose streets? our streets. whose streets? our streets. no kkk! >> so there you saw the white supremacists, they were shouting, you will not replace us. jews will not replace us. blood and soil, blood
and soil. whose streets, our streets. those were really disgusting word we heard there. it should have been so simple to simply say i condemn this. i don't want their support. these are very bad people. yet we didn't really hear that in the president's news conference today. he was equating both sides, the
protesters and the counterprotesters. i want you to speak personally congressman as someone who has faced prejudice in your life. tell us how that felt to see that. >> here is the thing. my dad is black. my mom is white. they met to l.a. and moved to san antonio in the early '70s. my dad was a traveling salesman. he wasn't allowed to stop at every restaurant or go to every hotel room. three decades later, their youngest son is a member of congress. that's because the 23rd district of texas where i
represent is filled with people that believe in the content of people's character, that we have come a long way. almost all americans believe that racism, bigotry, anti-semitism, there is no room for that in this great country that we all call home.
it's unacceptable and it is sad. >> what's your message? what would you say to the president, congressman right now. >> apologize. racism, bigotry, anti-semitism of any form is unacceptable. the leader of the free world should be unambiguous about that. >> thank you so much, congressman for your very, very powerful and strong word. we really appreciate your joining us on this really important day. congressman wil herd of texas. >> it is not very often you hear a republican congressman criticize the republican president. >> all those republicans that came out on saturday, disappointed with the president's remarks, they are
n now coming out. you need to call this what it was. a terrorist act by white supremacists. there are not both sides or many sides to naziism that was on display in charlottesville. there are also not both sides or many sides to what president trump said today. every one of his actions an instincts have shown zero inclination to try to actually create consensus, healing space for the country to begin to move forward. >> he said what he believes today, david. that was him. that's what he believes. he may not understand that. i asked donald trump in no
uncertain terms two or three times whether he was racist, bigoted, anti-semitic, had any other problem with bigotry. he told me no. i'm the least racist person. if he is not the least racist person, he is the most racist friendly person i have seen. this is what he believes. you can call it what they want. the evidence shows that he certainly is racist adjacent and he certainly is sympathizing with nazis and white supremacists today. >> he was talking about people innocently and legally protesting. the video that you showed was not people innocently and legally protesting. they were chanting, jews will not replace us and other repugnant things. what we saw from the president, in order to explain his original stance, i need all the facts. we know this is a president that
doesn't need all the facts. he tweeted the attack in the fi philippines was a terror attack before he had all the facts. i am wondering what the facts are that he has been looking at that have suddenly illuminated his view back to what if was on saturday. of course, we know they are not. >> blood and soil is right out of the nazi playbook. that's right out of the nazi playbook. van jones has been pointing this out. iv ivanka converted to mary jared. he has a jewish son-in-law and jewish grandchildren. if he sees that, he should be ashamed of himself. if i was ivanka or his child, i
would go in and have a long talk with my father. >> the chanting we just heard in that very powerful video, you will not replace us. that's referring to black people are not replacing white people. jews will not replace us. blood and soil. that's an old nazi slogan. whose streets? our streets. that is white people. white people's streets. i don't understand how the president can say that there is equal condemnation, equal responsibility on both sides when we hear a lot of people marching through charlottesville uttering those horrendous words. we should point out a few things. he said i needed to gather all the facts. melania trump tweeted before he did. many others tweeted before he did. what facts did they not have when they tweeted. the fact is, he said what he said. so much of this -- i can't crawl into donald trump's head and
explain the things that he does. one thing is clear, he does not apologize m, he does not apologize. he is a runaway truck. no brakes and no reverse. the more he gets attacked, the more he pushes back. you saw some of that today. he is heading to a cliff here. what you see among many of these republicans, people of good will speaking out. they are jumping out of the car, jumping out of the truck. they see where it is going. wil herd said i hope the president will apologize. that would be a truly historic event. we haven't seen it yet. >> somebody has to take control of this truck that's careening to the edge. somebody has to calm the country down. that's the job of the president. that's normally what the president does in a situation like this. david knows this better than
anybody. instead of calming it down, he is riling it up. what would happen? who is there to essentially take charge and say, okay, guys, we need to calm down. we need to have a conversation in this country and do the job that the president has not been able to do. >> people around him keep making excuses for him. certainly not the people that come on television and make excuses for him. they keep saying, he is not this. he is not that. he is proving to be exactly what every critic has said about him. >> why are we saying it is somebody else's responsibility to calm him down. he should be able to get control of this. instead, he is advocating. >> he can't help himself. >> i asked yesterday, can you lose the moral authority of the presidency on saturday and gain it back on monday. the answer is clear today. you cannot. >> what happens, though, and i
agree with you, what happens if we see people in this country afraid, more violence, what if we see that? who is going to be there now? we look to the president to do that. who will be there in his place? it is an important question. >> i want to play another excerpt of what the president said, just a little while ago that is so out ramedraged a lot people already. >> you had a group on the other side and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible. it was a horrible thing to watch. there is another side. there was a group on this side. you can call them the left. you have just called them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. so you can say what you want. you can say what you want. that's the way it is. >> you said there was hatred and violence. >> i do think there is blame on
both sides. you look at both sides. i think there is blame on both sides. i have no doubt about it. you don't have any doubt about it either. >> let me get don lemon to weigh in. blame on both side. we just saw the tape. on one side, you have these white supremacists marching with their torches in a powerful moment screaming you will not replace us, referring to african-americans. jews will not replace us. blood and soil. who streets? our streets. did you see the blame for this on both sides? >> no, i don't. i'm not making excuses for whatever antifa, or the anti-protesters did. i wasn't there. you don't know what they did. i know why the original group was there. you saw it in that video.
the president is ignorance of facts and history. he needs to get an elementary school history lesson so he might understand that. i suspect not just wil herd but a lot of republicans were squirming during the course of that 15 or 20-minute exchange he had with reporters enter the lob by of trump tower. >> no doubt. my phone is full of lots of republicans who were doing exactly that, wolf. ible the question you are asking, gloria, is a question for the republican party. who is going to step forward because it is now up to the leaders of his own party to figure a path forward. he has proven incapable of doing so. it is his cabinet, the leadership on capitol hill, the majorities of both houses are republicans. the conversation and the consternation that the republican party has been going through throughout the entithe of the campaign around donald
trump. trying to wrestle with this thing that they knew was singeing them but had all this fuel and fire, they have to come to resolution about that now. >> wolf and gloria, that's to the initial response that i asked you. the people around him keep making excuses for him. that includes republicans. now, many of them have come forward on this particular point. the president has a republican house. he has a republican senate. he is in control, a republican white house. so if they don't put the guardrails on, if they don't put their hand up and say, mr. president, stop, you are not only embarrassing the country, you are scaring people. we don't know what you are doing with this. you no longer represent the interests of the republican party. he will continue to do what he is doing now. they are enablers if they don't stop. >> let's be honest. donald trump never felt particular allegiance to the
republican party and the republican party didn't really feel an allegiance to donald trump. he is an independent actor. there are stories today that ivanka and jared came to him and urged him to be tough on these groups, these neo-nazis and white supremacists and he went out and did what he did today. do you think that mitchell mcconnell or paul ryan or some other republican leaders are going to be more influence with donald trump than his own family? >> they are the leadership that control the power. >> i don't excuse hthem at all. he should be roundly condemned by republicans and democrats. i heard him a few weeks ago talking about how he could be more presidential than anybody but the late great abraham lincoln. you know what the late great abraham lincoln did as the civil war closed down? he goffave a second inaugural
address where he said with charity for all, with malice towards none, we need to find up the wound of the nation. that's what a president is expected to do. >> so you have a president who sees neo-nazis and those opposing neo-nazis as competing interests. >> equal. there is no sort of moral clarity here. there is no sense that they are not equal and that he may sea somebody was violent. they shouldn't have been. this was a nazi rally. the president didn't really acknowledge that today at all. he talked about, well, on the one hand and on the other hand, what is next to come down? is thomas jefferson's statue next to come down? >> they were innocently, i keep using this phrase, innocently and legally protesting. >> even the mayor of the city said that the protesters, the
anti -- the racist protesters didn't even abide by their own permit. they started coming way into the city and the routes that they weren't supposed to. the counterprotesters would not have been there had it not been for the racist protesters who there were the beginning. >> i want you to listen. this is republican senator, cory gardner, of colorado, speaking about an hour or so before the president's news conference. listen to what he said. >> this past weekend was a tragedy. when we witness people with kkk signs and white supremacists and neo-nazis. those assholes can go back to their cave. we don't want them in this country.
>> what you hear is from those people that cory gardner was just describing, the neo-nazis, the kkk and the white supremacists, they take comfort in what they hear from donald trump. they take comfort. that should be so alarming p to the president of the united states. it doesn't seem to be. i want to remind you, again, wolf, cory gardner, his job is to get republicans elected to the senate, to think through campaign strategy for every senate race next year, to make sure that republicans hang on to their majority in the united states senate. that's how he is talking. that's what he ceasees as the rt thing to do politically, morally, all of it. donald trump is missing the boat here. he is getting more isolated on an island apart from the country he represents. >> the reaction is coming in very quickly. here is a democratic senator of
hawaii. as a jew, as an american, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment. this is not my president. senator brian schatz of hawaii. we are getting david axlerod, a lot of reaction along those lines. people are simply outraged right now. >> whatever your political point of view, embracing naziism, even passively or dog whistling in that direction, embracing white supremacism, embracing the scenes that we just saw on the air here, is something that is repugnant to people of all political stripes. i have been getting e-mails from friends in the republican party expressing their shock, their embarrassment, their dismay about what the president has done. to david's point, he is isolating himself.
he is on an island. he came from an island. it is not as if the president was part of that. he is his own entity. he has as much kinship with some of those forces on the alt right as he does with mainstream republicans. so everybody ought to be hip to that. it is not as if he has gone off the deep end. i started off the deep end. >> i agree. to that point, there aren't republicans that he values or trusts enough who could go to him in the oval office and say, mr. president, this is a national disaster right now. presidents need to preside over national disasters in a different way from the way you did. they do not need to cause them. they need to fix them. who would have the authority with trump to do that? maybe general kelly.
>> it is kind of a rhetorical question i'm asking in a way. who is it? maybe it is jared or ivanka. maybe it is somebody in his family. this is a man that cannot get beyond himself, who cannot admit that he made a mistake and that what he is doing is compounding that mistake right now, because he cannot admit that he was ever wrong. >> one at a time. >> they have no power. it doesn't matter. they have not been able to control or change anything that donald trump says or does from the beginning. maybe they will be the normalizing force in the white house. not going to happen. they are there for show and to promote their brand and their jewelry. let's be honest about that. the real people will be
republicans t republicans that can make a difference. the question on my show to every republican, when is enough enough? does a tax cut of a few dollars means that much to you where you lose your humanity, where you lose your manhood? does being able to make a little more money where you can reconcile to your daughter someone is able to grab her by the genitals? how could you recognize those things? there is example after example after example. people that did not support this president who may have been centrist, every single day, he does something where he puts himself further on an island and people say i can no longer support you. when is enough enough? who is the moral conscious of this country?
barack obama is not in office. i haven't heard from john lewis. i spoke with him personally. he hasn't said anything publicly. who is the moral leader of this country? we are leaderless morally as far as i can see at this point unless you guys can bring someone to the floor. i don't know who is. >> david just as a fact cal matter, you mention the general kelly. i'm wondering what the heck they were doing sending the president out here today. i mean, someone must have had a sense of his temperature. anybody could have understood that -- anybody should have understood that there were going to be no questions about infrastructure today. infrastructure was the last thing on anybody's mind. so, basically what you were doing was you were sending donald trump out there to handle these questions. clearly he must have expressed himself on this internally in
the way that he expressed himself ultimately externally. why did they send him out there? part of containing this is to try and sense where the president is at and, you know, yet you can't stop him from tweeting and so on. but you might have been able to prevent this. that's my first question. the second question is, you ask which republican can talk to him. what is the vice-president going to do? >> right. >> what is his conversation going to be with the -- is he going to continue to defend the president in unquestioning terms, even in situations like this? he holds himself up as a moral leader. is he going to be one in this case? >> well, we know that he's 71 years old. he's unlikely to change. he's unlikely to acknowledge he made a mistake. and he certainly is unlikely to apologize. he was asked about his chief political strategist in the white house, steve bannon, and his future in the white house. listen to this. >> look, i like mr. bannon.
he's a friend of mine. but mr. bannon came on very late. you know that. i went through 17 senators, governors, and i won all the primaries. mr. bannon came on very much later than that. and i like him. he's a good man. he is not a racist. i can tell you that. he's a good person. he actually gets a very unfair press in that regard. but we'll see what happens with mr. bannon. but he's a good person and i think the press treats him frankly very unfairly. >> we'll see what happens, david chalian. we'll see what happens with mr. bannon. that is not exactly a vote of confidence in steve bannon. >> it seemed like a vote of no confidence. it's never a good day when you have to go out to the cameras and say your chief strategist is not a racist. that's not usually a good day for the president of the united states. clearly there is no movement from the president to embrace steve bannon. it is so ironic, if you will, or perhaps just coincidental, but that steve bannon, who is so
clearly identified with the alt-right and breitbart and the white nationalist movement in many ways, for this controversy to be brewing right now while steve bannon is being dieangledy the president in the balance of not knowing what his future is going to be at the white house seems somewhat coincidental and confounding all at the same time. >> steve bannon put the alt-right on the map. >> right. >> they gave prominence through his website, through breitbart. so what the hill is the president talking about? >> ironically the problems with steve bannon come from his fight with jared kushner and come from other places, people inside the white house disagree with him substantively. >> mcmaster. >> mcmaster, et cetera. they disagree with him substantively, and it predated all of the events in charlottesville. so, now i think they have a problem to, you know, to decide if indeed the president wants to get rid of him. actually, if general kelly wants to get rid of him. when do you, you know, when do you do that and how would that
portray? >> i feel like, david, i feel like david axelrod when you say after you make the moral point, let me make this other point. i feel like, you know, we keep talking about politics and what this means and the factions in the white house. if you are there in the white house, then you tacitly support what this president is doing. you are complicit. anyone there from general kelly to whomever, to whatever spokesperson, stephen miller to bannon to everyone on down complicit. they believe what the president does. if they didn't they wouldn't be around him they have the power and freedom as an american to say i don't want this job, i'm going to go do something else. they believe it as well. they are complicit. no one around him believes other than what he believes. as i said earlier, he said he's not the most -- he's the least racist person. it is certainly racist a jace ept. all of it. >> very quickly. >> go ahead, very quickly. >> look, somebody has to do those jobs. i suspect that some of those people who are staying -- i'm not defending any of this. but some of those people are staying because they think they're the thin blue line
between donald trump and the rest of the world. >> it hasn't proven true yet. >> i know several people who work for him in the administration. they think they have a responsibility to protect the country from some of what he wants to do. coming up we're going to have much more on the breaking news and the truly stunning die tribe. president trump goes off the rails. he's blaming both sides, both sides for the violence in charlottesville, virginia, saying the white supremacist rally was attacked by what he calls the alt-left. i was playing golf days ago... love golf. i used to love golf. wait, what, what happened? i was having a good round, and then my friend, sheila, right as i was stepping into the tee box mentioned a tip a pro gave her. no. yep. did it help? it completely ruined my game. well, the truth is, that advice was never meant for you.
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sides. this hour new outrage from critics who say his attempt at a do-over was a sham. i need the facts. mr. trump said he hesitated to say too much about charlottesville at first because he needed more information. we're going to breakdown his eye popping explanation. call it murder. the president rails against the suspect in the deadly car attack in charlottesville flatly calling him a murderer before he was put on trial. was he willing to call the attack an act of terrorism? and bannon under the bus. when asked about the future of his embattled chief strategist, the president would only say, we'll see what happens. will steve bannon be the next white house official to be forced out? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> ann